Sant'Egidio community founder receives Charlemagne Prize
The Italian Catholic activist, 58, showed ‘exceptional commitment’ to making the world ‘more peaceful and more fair.’
Berlin -- Italian Andrea Riccardi, who founded the Community of Sant'Egidio, was Saturday named the winner of the 2009 Charlemagne Prize, awarded in recognition of services to European peace and unity.
The Italian Catholic activist, 58, showed "exceptional commitment" to making the world "more peaceful and more fair," as well as encouraging "better mutual understanding between people, cultures and religions," a statement from the prize organizers said.
The Community of Sant'Egidio was created in Rome in 1968, following the Second Vatican Council as a Catholic lay organization devoted to charity work. It currently operates in more than 60 countries around the world.
Riccardi will receive the award on May 21 in the German city of Aachen to coincide with Ascension Day, which marks the time when Christians believe Jesus ascended to heaven after his resurrection.
The Charlemagne Prize is a citizens' prize for distinguished service on behalf of European unification.
The award is named for the eighth-century emperor Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, who ruled over an empire covering much of Western Europe.
It was created after World War II by the German city of Aachen, which served as Charlemagne's capital.
Past recipients of the prize include Sir Winston Churchill, former US president Bill Clinton, Vaclav Havel, the euro currency -- represented by the European Central Bank -- and former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who oversaw the drafting of the European constitution treaty.
Last year it was awarded to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her role in promoting the European Union's reform Lisbon Treaty during her country's presidency of the EU in the first half of 2007.